Housing measure may be removed from ballot

A controversial charter amendment that would require San Francisco to spend nearly $3 billion to boost The City’s affordable housing stock could be knocked off the November ballot.

The affordable-housing measure was placed on the ballot in January by Supervisor Chris Daly with a super majority of support on the 11-member Board of Supervisors. The three city legislators who voted against it are considered more moderate members and allies of Mayor Gavin Newsom: Sean Elsbernd, Michela Alioto-Pier and Carmen Chu.

Now, Elsbernd has introduced a motion to have the board vote at Tuesday’s board meeting to withdraw the affordable-housing measure from the ballot. To do so would take six votes.

Daly criticized Elsbernd’s motion.

“It’s pretty clearly an 11th hour move to subvert the will of the board and take the opportunity away from the voters to weigh in on an important issue,” Daly said.

At least one supervisor who voted for the housing measure in January said he is giving “serious consideration” to switching his support and voting against it.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick said after serving as chair of the board’s budget committee, he now realizes how “narrowly constrained” city officials are when balancing the budget due to spending mandates and labor contracts.

The funding, he said, is “locked in to the point where the budget process itself is terribly frustrating.”

Newsom has criticized the measure as something San Francisco cannot afford and has said set spending requirements are not sound fiscal policy.

Voters, however, have already approved a number of spending mandates. Last fiscal year, The City was required by law to earmark $200.9 million for minimum staffing levels at the Police Department, $137.4 million for children services and $75.5 million for public libraries, among other spending mandates.

If Daly’s housing measure remains on the ballot and is approved by voters, The City would spend about $2.7 billion on creating below-market-rate housing during the next 15 years. It would require spending a baseline amount — $88 million in its first year — on housing in addition to setting aside 2.5 cents for every property-tax dollar for housing needs — estimated at $34 million in its first year.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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